The Victor Cruz Conundrum: Giants Hold the Leverage

From Matthew Cohen / SNYGiants contributor

As we all know, Victor Cruz is a restricted free agent this offseason. If the Giants sign him to a first round restricted tender, they pay him $2.9 million if he doesn’t sign with another team (and they don’t match the offer). Cruz faces an interesting choice this offseason.

Any team that signs Cruz will give up a first round pick. Extrapolating from some rigorous but outdated analysis from 2005 (http://www.nber.org/papers/w11270.pdf?new_window=1), a middle first round draft pick is worth $5-$10 million (no one is giving up a high first round pick for Victor Cruz).

Now assuming that you are a rational team, you will be willing to pay Victor his fair market rate less the $5-$10 million value of that pick over say 5 years. Let’s say Cruz is worth say $40 million over 5 years (Marques Colston money). You would only be willing to pay $6-$7 million per year ($30 – $35 million).

Does Cruz take $3 million this year and get $8 million a year over 5 years next year or does he go for $6-$7 million per year over 5 years now (assuming he gets such an offer). Taking the offer today has less risk as Cruz could get injured in 2013 (just ask Steve Smith). On the other hand, if teams value that first round pick at the high end of that $5-$10 million, Cruz could be looking at less money than if he waits a year.

Another thing to consider is that half or more of the teams that would normally bid on Cruz and drive up his market value will sit this out as their picks will be too highly valued. This could drive down the value for Cruz to the lower end of his expectations.

The Giants seem to be in a decent position. They either get one of the better second wideouts in the game for a reasonable price in 2013 or they get a first round draft pick. A third option is that Cruz realizes the lack of leverage he has and signs a team friendly long term deal.